Dental Economics takes pride in the fact that the majority of our feature articles and viewpoints are written by actively-practicing dentists. Perhaps no author has had more impact on the profession than regular contributor Dr. John L. "Jack" Kennedy, a general dentist from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beginning with his popular "Common Threads of Success" series in 1990, his writings have had profound influence and stirred debate on many important topics.
This spring, Dr. Kennedy spoke to graduating dentists and dental hygienists at his alma mater, Baylor University. His upbeat message closed with five suggestions to help new graduates achieve success. He challenged them to:
Be a lifelong student. Study not only dentistry, but read across the curriculum. Those who study and know only dentistry, after a while, become narrowly focused and stale. The best solve many of their practice and life problems through reading literature, psychology, philosophy, history and art, as well as science.
Attempt excellence on a daily basis. The key word is attempt. No one is excellent every day, including Michael Jordan, but the more you attempt excellence, the more it finds you. Excellence in dentistry has much less to do with natural talent than it has to do with the mindset that "I`m going to give it my best each day." Most who persevere can learn to play the game of dentistry at a high level, no matter their technical skills during their formal schooling.
Be willing to accept rejection. Most who practice dentistry successfully recognize that a "no" from a patient today often is a "yes" tomorrow. Plant seeds for high quality dentistry and you will find yourself harvesting many of these seeds at a later date. Those who fear rejection routinely offer less than their best, which cheats patients out of rightfully making their own economic decisions.
Be patient. The lifetime-success race most often goes to the turtles, rarely to the rabbits. Mark Twain said, "It took me 20 years to become an overnight success." Overspending in the personal, as well as the professional, arena seems to be endemic to the specie doctor. Financial stress often has a negative influence on professional and personal decisions. Be innovative and creative in your practice and be conservative with your money and how you spend and invest it.
On a daily basis, try not to take yourself too seriously. Life isn`t fair, it`s just life. Do not beat yourself up when you don`t meet your own expectations or the expectations of others, for, at times, none of us do. The most successful people in life are the ones who routinely take a chance on being something special. The real losers are the ones who never get into the game.